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Smeal graduate Wanda Hope receives Alumni Fellow Award

October 7, 2021

Wanda Hope
Wanda Hope

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Wanda Bryant Hope, a 1987 Penn State Smeal College of Business graduate with a degree in marketing, was one of 22 Penn State alumni to receive the Penn State Alumni Association’s Alumni Fellow Award on Wednesday. The ceremony honored both 2020 and 2021 recipients.

Since 1973, the Alumni Fellow Award, the highest award given by the Alumni Association, has been presented to alumni who are considered leaders in their professional fields.

In her current role as chief diversity and inclusion officer for Johnson & Johnson, Hope is leading the effort to implement programs, policies and processes that ensure that diversity and inclusion are at the core of everything the company is doing.

According to Alex Gorsky, Chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson, Hope’s work took on a greater sense of urgency last year as the country faced both the COVID-19 pandemic and a reckoning over the pervasive effects of systemic racism.

He said that as the pandemic highlighted glaring disparities in the health outcomes of patients in communities of color, it became all the more imperative that the private sector step up efforts to effect meaningful change. 

“We look across the business, from our clinical trials to our supplier diversity, when considering our impact and priorities,” said Peter Fasolo, chief human resource officer at Johnson & Johnson. “Wanda has been vital to that work.”

Hope was instrumental in shaping and launching Johnson & Johnson’s $100 million commitment to help eradicate racial and social injustice by eliminating health inequalities for people of color. She also worked to create a campaign to better cultivate a workforce that reflects the diversity of the patients and communities Johnson & Johnson serves. 

Hope said that she is committed to making a positive impact.

“My parents were active in the civil rights movement, and I grew up understanding that you must strive to make the world a better place,” she said. “I wholeheartedly believe that diversity and inclusion aren’t just the right thing to do, it's imperative that businesses embrace this work."

She began her career with the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and ascended through several leadership positions including vice president, sales and marketing; vice president, commercial analytics, development and operations; and vice president, global performance and development. She was appointed to her current role in March 2015.

Smeal College of Business Dean Charles H. Whiteman said that Hope has led an exemplary career, demonstrating a commitment to building a diverse and mutually supportive community at Johnson & Johnson.

“As a result of her leadership, diversity and inclusion have been embedded in the company culture at Johnson & Johnson, and we have been fortunate to have her bring this focus to Penn State as well. From her work with the Smeal Board of Visitors to the Penn State Presidential Commission on Racism, Bias, and Community Safety, Wanda is committed to creating a more equitable and just future for everyone. I am proud to see her recognized with the Alumni Fellow Award,” Whiteman said.

Outside of Johnson & Johnson, Hope is working to advance diversity and inclusion across the wider corporate world, with positions on the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the New Equality and Inclusion, as well as chair of the Business Roundtable’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group.

Hope received the Smeal Diversity Leadership Award in 2018.

She has also received the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association's Rising Star Award, the YWCA Tribute to Women in Industry Award, the Auburn Lives of Commitment Award and the National Sales Network Community Service Award.

The Alumni Fellow program is administered by the Penn State Alumni Association in cooperation with the University's academic colleges, campuses and the Office of the President. Alumni are nominated by a college or campus as leaders in their professional fields and accept an invitation from the president of the University to return to campus to share their expertise with students, faculty and administrators.

Visit the Alumni Association’s website to learn more about this year's honorees, and also for more information on the award

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